Travelling by train is a great way to see South Australia. Jump on board The Ghan, Indian Pacific or The Overland.
See more of South Australia on a train journey
Steam locomotives, bellowing whistles and the romanticism of a bygone era – South Australia’s timeless trains have been lovingly restored as a new generation experiences the lure of the railways.
Travel through the Adelaide Hills to Victor Harbor on the steam-powered Cockle Train. Take a 40-minute journey along the foreshore on the Semaphore and Fort Glanville Tourist Railway.
Don’t want to fly or drive on your holiday? See more of South Australia by taking a train. Cross the Nullarbor Plain and experience the Outback.
Step back in time on a historic train ride across South Australia.
Crossing state borders
Great Southern Rail
offers three interstate travel options to and from Melbourne, Darwin, Perth and Sydney.
- The Overland operates between Adelaide and Melbourne
- The Ghan operates between Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin
- The Indian Pacific operates between Perth, Adelaide and Sydney
Pichi Richi Railway – Steam trains through the Flinders Ranges
One of South Australia’s most intriguing rail experiences is the Pichi Richi Railway in Quorn. It runs on the oldest remaining section of the famous narrow-gauge old Ghan railway. You’ll find steam locomotives, historic diesels and century-old genuine timber-body carriages.
The railway from Port Augusta through the Pichi Richi Pass to Quorn opened in 1879. It was part of the first stage of the Great Northern Railway that was intended to link Port Augusta with Darwin. Quorn was a vital railway junction, especially during World War II when military, coal and other traffic placed sizeable demands on the railway.
The line lay unused from 1957 until 1974, when it was restored by the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society. Ongoing work over the past 40 years has allowed users to experience the beauty of the engines and region.
Trips operate on selected dates, from March through to November. Full-day trips depart from Port Augusta and half-day trips from Quorn. Travel on a range of historic trains. Take the Afghan Express – a steam-hauled train using timber-bodied carriages, built in the late 1920s. Another popular train is the Pichi Richi Explorer – a steam train with many carriages, some built as far back as the nineteenth century. Other trains include the Barwell Bull and Twilight Explorer.
SteamRanger Heritage Railway
The SteamRanger Heritage Railway offers a rail experience with some of the most beautiful views in the state. It has steam and diesel-hauled trains that take tourists between Mount Barker, over the Mount Lofty Ranges, down to Strathalbyn and on to Goolwa, Port Elliot and Victor Harbor.
The Cockle Train is a fan favourite – aptly named because during the early days of settlement, the local residents would take a horse-drawn train to Goolwa to collect cockles from the beaches near the Murray River mouth. It travels along the oldest steel-railed railway in Australia.
Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre
Discover a unique rail history in Peterborough at the Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre. It was once South Australia’s busiest regional railway hub and employed more than 1,000 people who looked after 100 passing trains every day.
Here you will find Australia’s only operational triple gauge turntable, as well as a wide range of elegant steam trains, powerful diesel locomotives, unique passenger trains and freight trains. All are exhibited in original settings in the heritage-listed roundhouse and original work sheds.
Make sure you stick around till after dark. This is when Steamtown really comes alive. A spectacular sound and light show explores the history of Australia’s rails, all in the comfort of a first class sleeper.
The Heritage Rail Trail
Steamtown is a significant attraction along the Heritage Rail Trail, which includes 14 townships between Broken Hill in New South Wales and Port Pirie in South Australia. This 400 kilometre stretch of rail was once one of the world's busiest. Discover this unique trail on a self-drive road trip.
The Tramway Museum
Want to make a family day of it? Head to the Tramway Museum in St Kilda. Stop by the St Kilda Adventure Playground and Mangrove Trail as well.
At the museum, you can ride historic trams that used to be operational in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Ballarat. It has operational examples of each type of tram previously used on the Adelaide system.
More train experiences
There are more great train experiences to be had in South Australia, from miniature trains to museums and tourist railways.